For some time now, the Grand Theft Auto series has been a lot more than a simple "crime simulator"; players could take over the life of an ambulance driver in Grand Theft Auto III or go bowling with cousin Roman in Grand Theft Auto IV. Our first look at the gameplay of Grand Theft Auto V today, though, suggests that the game is heading even further into its role as an "everything simulator."
For example, GTA V expands the driving range mini-game in Vice City Stories into a full-fledged golfing simulator, providing the virtual links action that series fans have been clamoring for (not really). GTA V also lets players try their hand at tennis, scuba diving, and big game hunting—just to prove that it can, I guess.
It's hard to imagine that these mini-games will stand up to the countless titles that focus solely on each activity, and we're not sure we'd want them to; even if Rockstar managed to somehow shoehorn the best golfing simulation ever created into GTA V, that would just mean the developers spent less time on the stuff people actually look for in the Grand Theft Auto series. Indeed, we're a little worried that all of these side efforts in the name of open world "freedom" might make the game feel unfocused and weaken the core life-of-crime element in the process.
Not that Grand Theft Auto has completely forgotten about the "theft" part of its name this time around. It seems that the three playable characters previously revealed in April's storyline trailer will be working together on a series of player-guided heists rather than operating in parallel and wholly separate storylines. It looks like you'll be able to switch characters at almost any point, adding what Rockstar calls "a touch of voyeurism" in being able to see what is going on with other characters as they go about their day.
This even applies in the middle of missions, letting you rappel into an office building to take hostages one moment, then provide covering fire from a sniper's nest the next. Rockstar also says it has put "a huge focus on mechanics" this time around and, indeed, the over-the-shoulder shooting shown in the video looks more reminiscent of the company's Max Payne 3 than the clunky gunplay of previous GTA games.
The new video preview also shows Rockstar's trademark sardonic take on modern life. We especially liked the giant neon pot plant on the wall of the "medical" dispensary and the bank robber asking innocent bystanders not to "make me ruin all the great work your plastic surgeons have been doing."
All this, and the video doesn't even touch on "GTA Online," which Rockstar promises to discuss properly in the future. Even without that bit, though, it's clear that Rockstar still has lofty ambitions for its next open-world sandbox.